What is the deciding factor in relationships that go the distance and those that don’t? No matter what status you would file your relationship under, ‘happy’ , ‘okay’, ‘on the rocks’ or ‘its complicated’, you can build a partnership that is no just surviving, but THRIVING and one that can truly go the distance. Even the happiest of partnerships, require sustained effort in order to stay that way.
Relationship advice on how to combat the most common problems that cause divorce and separation. How do we rebuild connection when we feel we are no longer IN LOVE with your spouse?
An interesting topic keeps arising with both my Relationship Coaching clients, the brave couples and empowered individuals who are in relationships AND my Love Coaching clients, the incredible fierce women who are out there in the wilds of the dating jungle.
What is a healthy relationship?
Whilst there are as many ways to flesh out the many facets and unique paths towards a ‘healthy relationship’ there are a few basic fundamental points that are universal and if we want the journey of love and partnership to thrive and be a well paved smooth road, we need to navigate the three primary relationships highways, with great care.
One of the basic principals of coaching, for me the coach, is to never assume you know, what I know. Confession time! I don’t always get that right. And over the last few weeks, it’s become apparent that this very topic is one of the ways, I’ve fallen down, as a coach. And today, I RECTIFY THAT! WOOT!
There are three major categories that relationships (and most people who engage with ANY kind of relationship) fall into; Independent, Co-dependent and Interdependent.
This is not one of those millennial races, where every one get’s a prize… there is one clear winner for the best and healthiest type of engagement in relationships.
In today’s LOVE LETTER I am going to present the big three, and YOU, dearest one, are going to tell me, what you think is the #1 health winner. Hop on, LET’S RIDE!
Co-dependent relationships are one of the most common ailments I come across in my coaching practice.
Here is the dictionary definition of CO-DEPENDANT.
Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
Right now, you might be thinking OH SNAP, BEEN THERE BOUGHT THE T SHIRT!
Or you might be saying, Hey drug addiction>? Mental health? That’s not been my relationship experience!
Let me drill down on the simpler yet deeper explanation of co-dependency.
I am only okay, if you are okay.
My well being is directly influenced by your well being.
I am not sure where I end, and you begin.
Co-dependent relationships are toxic for ALL who are involved, it enables the person we are trying to fix and it stifles our own happiness and ability to self create happiness from within.
Dictionary definition of INDEPENDENT = Free from outside control. Not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.
Whilst this does affect more of my single Love Coaching clients, it’s also not uncommon with those in relationships. Independence is not a bad thing. In fact this feminist LOVES her some independence! Hellllo free from outside control! YASSS!
HOWEVER when we are using independence to self sustain 100% because we are convinced others will disappoint us, OR we feel that no one can be relied upon to do the job and/or do it right AND/OR in general are using independence to shield our own control issues… we lose out on allowing others to provide for us.
Human beings often connect most meaningfully in the exchange of love and through acts of contribution. If we are too independent to truly receive from others, we in effect make them redundant. And most people want to feel they play an active, impactful role on others lives. That they can contribute sustenance, whether that be emotional, mental, spiritual or even financial.
People are generally drawn to go where they are needed most. In fact, that’s often how we define a ‘good person’.
Definition = mutually dependent; depending on each other creating a framework of partnership.
My personal definition for independent? I want AND need you in my life, but not to have a life.
Interdependent relationships mean relying on each other for mutual support. Adding to someone’s happiness, however not being the sole font for that person’s happiness. We are open to give and receive within healthy boundaries, where asked, where appropriate whilst still allowing and even expecting self-sufficiency, too. Interdependent t partnerships do not necessarily mean everything is split down the middle 50/50, but instead means that each individuals assets and limitations are valued and utilized for an overall sense of equality.
You can be in an interdependent relationship where one spouse is the overall ‘bread winner’ whilst the other spouse is provides the highly valuable ( yet wildly un monetized) service of childcare. In a healthy interdependent relationships, those roles do not have to correlate with traditional gender roles, and yet they still can, if that is what works best for your relationship.
You can be in an interdependent relationship and still put concerted effort in to brightening your partners day, or booking those concert tickets you know will bring them joy but you don’t feel you HAVE to do those things in order to be liked, loved desired by your partner OR that if you don’t ‘make them happy’ they won’t BE happy.
I do hope the above offers you a very clear and easy to apply standard for relationships.
WHICH ONE DO YOU THINK IS THE WINNER FOR HEALTHIEST RELATIONSHIP OF THE YEAR?
And, where do you see where you have been curating, participating and harming yourself and others in your past relationship? OR, your current one, my dear?
Can’t wait to hear your responses in the comments!
And I, the relationship expert, didn’t even truly know THEN, just what an epic piece of the relationship puzzle this truly was, till THIS PAST YEAR!
Not me, not my partner…Neither of us had any real idea what an integral starring role this plays our very successful partnership. And now that we do know, we can’t stop seeing WHY this is such a big deal.
Just last week, as my husband and I were wandering around the streets of Paris, on a quick city break…we found ourselves having this convo again about this integral element of our relationship bliss, that we had absolutely no idea during the dating and early relationship phase, was such going to prove to be such a BIGGIE secret weapon in our marital happiness!
This particular deep BIG OL’ core value issue comes up for many of my coaching clients, and it is, hands down, the hardest one to align and move towards reconciliation around…
What is possibly the most super crazy???
NOBODY, NOT THE EXPERTS, NOT OTHER HAPPY COUPLES, NOT ALL THE RELATIONSHIP ADVICE MALARKEY ONLINE… NOBODY IS TALKING ENOUGH ABOUT THIS ELEMENT!!
Check it out. I know that my husband isn’t a unicorn. He’s not some mythological beast and I just happened to stumble across. I know our marriage is not just magically easy. It takes active work on self-awareness, compassion and communication to make ANY partnership thrive. And our relationship, is no different. HOWEVER, we did get off on the best possible start, in one area, by luck really!
Okay, let me back track for a minute here…
Before I met Mark, I had invested in love coaching, because my dating and love life was a #hotmessexpress. In fact, love was my ultimate Achilles heel, for years. No matter how much improvement I saw in every other area of my life, my romantic relationships lagged behind my usual badassery,. My love life truly resembled a rescue puppy dog headed back to the shelter.
One of the MANY results of that coaching work, was that I was way more intentional about WHO I was choosing and WHY.
I had a relatively firm grasp on my CORE VALUES and had TAKEN OUT just enough of the ‘love will conquer all’ aesthetic, that was so not serving me, so I could make healthy relationship choices that were both practical and loving, towards myself and others.
I had learned that CONNECTION was the fuel for LOVE. I also learned, that living with someone day in and day out, was the real nitty gritty of what can make or break a partnership. That lasting CONNECTION was about ALIGNMENT.
GUESS WHAT? Even with ALL that knowledge, there was one thing that truly was luck. Or at the very least, I had no idea would prove to one of the most important reasons my marriage works so well.
A day to day, core value issue, we both had no idea was so important, and that I give thanks for every day, that we got right, without even knowing how right we needed to get it, before we said, I DO.
Of all the things we identified during our chats, like our high level of mutual respect, the goodwill we have for one another, and the mega trust we had built… the ONE THING that really had one of the greatest impacts on why we are able to co-habitate and build a life with one another, was the least hippy dippy, wooo wooo of all???
HELLLLLO, MONEY MINDSET!!
ICK, Money? Where is the rom-com, period drama like love in that??
Here’s the deal. My husband and I have very similar outlook on money. It’s value, how to spend it, when to save it, where is the best place to put it, and what having it and not having it, means to us. Our money mindset is not identical. Emotionally I see money as independence and power, power to live a particular lifestyle and power to help others. The hubba hubba, he emotionally ties money to security and stability. The means to those different emotional ends, is where we are so very aligned.
We rarely disagree on the monetary value of things. We both had almost the exact number in mind when it came to putting on that quite expensive party of a wedding and no one is off sneaking around buying things and smuggling them into the house. When I see a parade of Amazon purchases showing up on our doorstep, I don’t go running to check the bank balance. I KNOW it's not in his nature to spend crazy money on nonsense we don't need and I too do not spend crazy money on nonsense we don't need! (For the record, I did NEED all those French moisturizers I bought in Paris!)
Our intellectual and emotional response to what money should be spent and what should be saved, are in alignment.
Before we got married, we moved in together; Without too much discussion, we opened a joint checking account. We both still had our separate checking, savings investment accounts. When we got married, we consolidated ALL our money, aside from some retirement investments, without much deliberation or concern whatsoever. We could only do that so easily, confidently (and freely) because we shared the same money mindset, and on that foundation, trust around money was easier to cultivate.
All of our individual purchases came from the very same account. Full stop. At the time, I made well over twice as much money as he did, and never for a second was I worried he would go off ‘spending all MY money’. We split most things down the middle however from time to time, I gladly spent more, since I had more, without feeling any sense of injustice. My husband, gratefully, does not tie his masculinity (or provider status) to bank balances, so he never felt threatened by our income disparity.
When I left my old career to pursue a coaching certification and start my business, it was all swings and round-a-bouts those first coupe of years, with who was earning and providing more money. As a couple, there was little distress on our union, even though our overall income dropped considerably.
I am not saying, joint accounts are THE KEY answer! I am saying...
Looking back, we both realized that MONEY MINDSET was so crucial to our happiness levels in our life, and our marriage.
Arguments over money and lifestyle associated to money is high up on the marriage killer offender list. LIKE, WAY WAY UP THERE.
As a Relationship Coach, who works with couples week in and week out, I can tell you that some of the most bitter resentments and seemingly insurmountable trials in many of these partnerships, is around money mindset.
The one thing every single one of us does EVERY DAY, even if we don’t leave the house, is breathe.. and spend money. That light on my desk and the internet whirring silently, as I type this, are costing me money.
So what does an aligned money mindset look like?
Well, firstly aligned doesn’t equate to mirrored. Some differences in views around money can go a long way. I can think of a few people I know, who the very last thing they need, is someone who spends money the way they do! Either because, they would be in Las Vegas every night OR because they would save every last penny earned and never EVER go on holiday!
HOWEVER, alignment is about two (or more) things moving in the same direction at the same time. It’s an overall shared trajectory and understanding of what effect money has on our physical, mental and emotional well being.
There is no avoiding the hard truth, that in our world, money represents security. Yet, perhaps the greatest contradiction, is that having more money doesn’t always makes different people feel the same way.
Biggie Smalls said it best “Mo’ money Mo problems”.
This is why, even a couple who has ‘all the monies’ can be the couple who fights most viciously about that same money. There is where the crux of alignment shows it’s face most clearly.
It's NOT about how much or how little money there is, but our relationship and engagement with money, that matters.
It's whether we are operating from a place of scarcity or abundance around money, and if we are behaving from possessive dependency or transparent interdependence.
For those of you have yet to find your partner to be, I encourage you to dig deep about how you really FEEL about and actively associate with money.
It’s all very taboo in our society to talk about money and love together, however, please push past the messaging that this isn’t something that’s spiritual or loving or ‘done’ and start digging.
The more clearly we choose a life partner based on our Core Values, the better chance we have at sustaining connection and love, for the long haul.
For those of you reading this, who are in partnerships, and you are now thinking right now, ‘uh oh, we got big, BIG problems in this area’, please know that alignment is achievable, even for those who are frighteningly out of whack.
Willingness and understanding, of ourselves and our partners money mindset, is the base to which we can align ourselves to be moving in the same direction!
We have to want to, and we have to be open to the idea, that our way is not the only, right way. Alignment is NOT bending others to our will! As impossible as it may feel to you, I can guarantee that IF you proactively open yourself up to new ideas, and processes every day… in your relationship, at work, with friends, even on your holiday bookings, ALIGNMENT becomes possible!
Sending you ALL the love! xx
Happy New Year!
What’s been on my mind? Well, how can I factor Star Wars into a blog about relationships? Of course!
Don’t worry, I won’t clog the content with metaphor. I will allow the art form that is the GIF, do most of the heavy Star Wars lifting. Also, there will be no Last Jedi SPOILERS in this edition of the Love Letters, though, come on now, you really haven’t seen it yet?? Hellllllo!??!?!
So yeah, another year and another epic Star Wars movie have just left us… AND THIS TIME, you had someone to cuddle up with at the movie theater to watch it with, WOOT!
That’s right, watch out world… against all odds of the Empire, you swiped your way to love. OR at least, what appears to be an almost unicorn like person, in what has been a Tatooine desert of ghosts, duds, jerks and just soooo not right for you, people.
So there you are, watching the rebellion give rise to great hope… and whilst you are genuinely trying to enjoy every moment of it, you’re kinda’ freaking out! A pervading voice from the dark side, keeps urgently whispering in your ear…”Don’t F@ck this up!!!!’
I get this particular brand of SOS call at least a few times a month from both men and women. People who are just starting out in relationships and overwhelmed with the fear that they’re going to f@ck it up. That, just one small misstep will bring the dominoes of their new burgeoning love, toppling into a million broken pieces on the floor.
The good news? Most of that is just scarcity. The fear that you are not enough to deserve this wonderful new love. And some of it is completely learn-able techniques, you simply, were never taught.
The Bad news? That scarcity is crawling all over you. It’s got you like WHOA, and if you are feeding those scarcity gremlins after midnight… you will indeed participate in the demise of this new relationship.
Can you break a new thing in two? YES. You absolutely can. Will it be one tiny misstep that unravels the whole thing? NO!
Human engagement and connection (AKA Relationships) are way more multi-faceted than one little aspect, toppling it.
Here are my top three tips on what challenges can make or break a new relationship in its first toddling year.
1. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
For some reason, we all think we should be relationship experts, that there is no margin for error for ourselves and our new partners. When in reality, there is no formal structure for learning about relationship skills. There is No Relationships 101 course in University, and for many of us #notallofus, we didn't have very good teachers at home, either.
We experience shame when we make communication errors and or have the expectation that we are supposed to 'get it right' every time. A relationship mind-set recipe for disappointment and disaster.
If you hear yourself saying to yourself, your partner and any friend who will listen “They should just KNOW how” or “How can I be 30something (or 40something) and NOT know how to do relationships?!?”, I invite you now, to take a deep breath and welcome the compassion I am offering.
WE ALL MISSED THAT CLASS IN SCHOOL BECAUSE IT DOESN’T EXIST!
2. HEALTHY AND INSTRUCTIVE BOUNDARIES:
How we start is how we will go on.
Many people, especially women, try to make themselves so accommodating and easy to be with at the start of a relationship because of fear based scarcity. If we do not show people from the very start how we need to be cared for and loved, we are not providing our partner and our relationship the authentic rich soil to thrive.
Good people inherently treat us, as we instruct them to. And being clear about that early on, creates a framework for you both to succeed + stops the nostalgic "she/he was so different when we first got together' battle cry, that can really kill a relationship down the road.
3. COMMUNICATION. COMMUNICATION. COMMUNICATION!
It's so important, I had to type it three times!
Learning techniques to communicate our needs clearly and in a positive manner that the other party can understand is an integral part to any relationships success. My clients are blown away at how, when they change the way they communicate their desires and needs, how differently AND abundantly their partners respond!
All of us come with an instruction manual inside of us. Finding it for ourselves and showing others with compassionate love, how to use that manual is a great act of love, towards ourselves and towards our partners.
Are you freaking out, worried that your lack of experience and knowledge on how to be in a happy, healthy relationship might just blow up your chances at love?
My ‘NEW LOVE’ programs are uniquely designed to offer YOU the tools and techniques for you to start CONFIDENTLY down the road to forever love. As an individual and/or as a couple! Let’s start out 2018 as you mean to carry on.
Book in your FREE 45 minute Breakthrough To Love Call, so you can get the clarity neeeded to create a tangible strategy to learn the skills to keep YOU and your new relationship THRIVING!
Looking forward to sending you more LOVE LETTERS in 2018 and helping YOU find and keep the LOVE YOU DESERVE! xx
How's your Blame Game skills these days?
Ahhhh yes, The Blame Game. I'm well acquainted with this party trick, for sure!
It’s typically the very first thing we go to, in the heat of the moment, when we are hurt and angry. Which is actually completely normal. When someone feels victimized, when we are hurt, we naturally focus our attention on the person, place or thing that has hurt us.
If I am burned by the stove, after whelping a very loud ouch or, in my case, most likely a high volume expletive, my eyes will go to, the stove! If, on hearing me scream out, you come running into the kitchen and ask, ‘What happened?’, I will point at the stove!
If we further unpick this analogy, we realize that the stove didn’t burn me. I burned myself on the stove. I got too close to something hot, I was careless, doing too many things at once, the stove, of course, did not leap across the kitchen and burn me!
So when we are hurt by our partners, whether that harm is real or perceived, intentional or unintentional, the finger will naturally rise and point at them.
The Blame Game, is when we never stop to unpick our part.
The Blame Game is when we are always carrying around with us, all the things they have done, to cause us harm.
The Blame Game is when we decide unequivocally, that the problems and failings in our partnerships, are completely (or most often) their fault.
I know what you’re thinking… BUT JESSICA, IT IS THEIR FAULT!!!
Yes, sometimes the blame is absolutely, justified and pointed in the right place!
Here’s the thing;
THE BLAME GAME, IS A LOSING GAME.
If you want to change the communication in your partnership, and start to garner some truly effective transformation in how you express and then get your needs met… The Blame Game MUST go!
Here’s some tips on doing just that;
- Never make your partner feel selfish, inadequate or incompetent. Effective communication will dissolve if we focus on pointing out the other persons shortcomings. Any human being’s natural reaction will be to go on the defensive AND/OR to be demobilized by shame.
- Find a time to have the discussion when you are calm. Attempting to have effective communication when emotions are running high, especially anger is a contradiction in terms. When we are angry or hurt, most of us will immediately pick up the blame game. Again, that’s normal to do so, it’s just not okay to try and communicate effectively when we are in that place. Take a walk to cool off OR Set a day and time, in advance, with your partner to discuss what happened. This allows both of you time to cool, to prepare mentally AND no one ever feels like they walked into an ambush.
- How things sound in our head and how they sound in reality, can be very different. Especially when we are hurt or angry. Speaking to one or two trusted friends or a coach/therapist can help us ratify our thinking and shift away from the blame game, BEFORE we speak without partners.
Remember, you can still advocate for your needs, and point out where your partner goes wrong… just drop the BLAME GAME and pick up the tools that actually result in effective communication AND you getting what you need! LOVE!
Over the last weeks, I have been posting about Attachment Styles, and how understanding and accepting your own attachment style was one of the most crucial keys to changing the dynamic in how you seek, attract, give and receive LOVE!
Today, it's ALL aboard… the SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE train!
3 of 3 in the Attachment Style series,
THE BEST ATTACHMENT STYLE, REVEALED!
I mentioned last week, that this was one of those rare topics where everybody, doesn’t get a prize.
That there was a specific attachment style that is, the winner. An attachment style that is THE BEST type to be when it comes to giving and receiving love AND when it comes to long term success and happiness, in relationships.
And the crown goes to…
THE SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE!
Oh yes. I said it. The best type of attachment, is SECURE.
It’s the best to find in a partner, it’s the best to overlay over, our own default attachment style.
I always think of it as the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The secure type is the tortoise, the slow and steady wins the race kinda’ gal or guy. Whilst the Avoidant is the hopping hare, jumping away quickly and the Anxious is the hopping hare, jumping up and down frantically without getting anywhere. The Secure Tortoise plods along, winning the race.
The Secure attachment style folks, are solid, reliable, consistent, calm, steady, resilient and direct communicators. Secure types inherently have an overall deep sense of trust, worthiness, dignity and respect, first for themselves and then, for others. They believe themselves to be trustworthy and they will extend that same trust to you, almost immediately. They are incredibly respectful and are often completely befuddled when respect is not an immediate part of the negotiations.
And don’t even try to play the jealously game with a secure type. You know, when you want to ‘test their love’ and subsequently drive yourself a bit crazy trying to poke them so they get jealous. Chances are, they won’t blink.
They are with you, because they trust you. If they didn’t trust you, they wouldn’t be with you. Simple, cut and dry, that’s the secure type. So they’re not going to get jealous. It’s a emotional response they just don’t go to and if they do find themselves in a relationship that does not have trust, dignity respect and calm, two things will happen. They will walk away. They will lose their secure attachment style and get all sorts of Avoidant and/or Anxious.
Secure Attachment styles do not freak out when things get intimate, they don’t constantly worry about their relationship status.
Do Secure types have any downsides?
Of course! Secure types, can be so resilient, have almost too much of saint like patience, that they put up with way more crap in a relationship then they should.
They can become so involved with their need for security and steadiness that they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ by bringing up things they are unhappy about within a relationship.
They can become so disorientated in a relationship with a partner who is avoidant or anxious, in a relationship that doesn’t allow for free flowing trust, dignity and connection, that they lose their innate sense of security and latch on to a different attachment style.
Remember, we can change and overlay any attachment we want, both consciously and unconscionably, and often people who start off in life and even in early relationships as quite secure can find themselves now, many years later, quite anxious or avoidant. Maybe they had their security threatened as a young child, maybe their Anxious partner has threatened their calm sense of security, maybe after years of dating avoidants, they have lost their sense of belief and security in love in general.
Secure types are often pass over in dating, quite easily. Let’s face it, the secure attachment style isn’t the most glamorous. And it sure doesn’t sound like what all the messaging (songs, poems and rom-coms) are telling us, about love. Where’s the drama? Where’s the fireworks? Where’s the plate smashing??? In today’s modern world, we can mistake these secure types for disinterested, lack luster and even label them a bore! Especially if we are usually are an Anxious attachment style. And if we are avoidant?? Ooof, the consistent intimacy offered by secure types? Freaks. Us. Out.
What can we do if we want to attract a secure type, be more of Secure type OR keep a secure type in our current relationship?
Once we truly familiarize ourselves with the Secure Attachment style, even in just reading these blogs I offered, you will begin to be able to spot the three attachment styles in yourself and in others. With the women I work with privately, most of which are NOT naturally secure types or sure aren’t after years of unsuccessful dating and relationships, we focus in on building self worth and faith in ourselves and love. Remember, someone with a secure attachment style, is someone who expects respect, dignity and trust because they offer those things freely. If we want to not only attract a secure type, but also BE more secure in our offering of love, we need to walk the walk!
When one partner is secure and the other is not, the work for the partner who is NOT secure mimics the work above. However, we also work deeply on communication skills, so they can understand their secure partner AND communicate their own anxiety and avoidance in a way that produces a constructive way forward for both towards one another.
For the secure partner, sometimes we need to create a safe, loving atmosphere for them to feel secure enough, to 'rock the boat' and communicate the concerns they have about the partnership.
If, after reading these blogs, you are still unsure which attachment style you are OR what you can start doing to lay bold claim to the SECURE attachment style, I invite you to get on the phone with me, and have a chat!